The Ravens, left tackles and NFL free agency



are entering another offseason with a sizable question mark at the left tackle position.

That has often been the case since the days of

Jonathan Ogden

, whether it was

Jared Gaither

’s mysterious injuries,

Michael Oher

’s inconsistency, or

Bryant McKinnie

’s unreliability eliciting that feeling of uncertainty.

This time around, McKinnie is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent and Oher, who will be one next offseason,

, the position he manned during their run to the

Super Bowl

. But none of the other young linemen on the roster seem to project as a better option there than Oher.

If the Ravens are looking to upgrade, there is good and bad news.

The good news is that there will be a lot of options for teams looking for a new left tackle. As I pointed out in the “redraft” of the 2008

NFL draft

, that draft had a great class of left tackles, some of which are expected to hit the market next month. The

Denver Broncos

are expected to use the franchise tag to retain

Ryan Clady

for 2013, but Kansas City’s

Branden Albert

(a Glen Burnie grad), Miami’s

Jake Long

and Atlanta’s

Sam Baker

could be available.

New Orleans Saints

left tackle

Jermon Bushrod

, a former Towson standout who has gone to consecutive Pro Bowls, will also test the free-agent waters.

The bad news? You probably already know the bad news. The Ravens

, especially if they can’t finalize an extension for quarterback

Joe Flacco

before the start of free agency, and probably won’t be players in the left tackle derby. The

New York Giants

just resigned their free-agent tackle, William Beatty,

. Agents for those other tackles no doubt took notice.

But I am not writing this simply to bum you out and waste your time, so I do have more good news. While this draft lacks star power atop the draft, it is considered to be deep, especially along the offensive and defensive lines. The Ravens won’t get a crack at one of the top three left tackle prospects -- Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson -- but there are some prospects who might intrigue the Ravens late in the first round or in the second.

The Ravens

, and the Ravens could look at North Carolina's Brennan Williams, Oregon's Kyle Long, or Arkansas Pine-Bluff's Terron Armstead in the second day of April’s draft.

It seems more likely that the Ravens will go the draft route to address this seemingly annual question mark.

Last year, they unearthed a nice second-round find in left guard

Kelechi Osemele

, and there might be another lineman they really like in the second or third round. Bringing back McKinnie as a cheap insurance policy makes sense, but I don’t know if you can trust him to play like he did in the playoffs for 16-plus games. And there is always Oher, who is a pretty good “worst-case scenario,” one at least 10 other teams in the league would gladly settle for.

The Ravens don’t necessarily have to make a significant move at left tackle this offseason to be competitive in 2013, but this spring might be a good time to address it for the long haul if they have the assets to pull it off.